WEDDING PLANNER- from a bride who had to plan her own wedding

Let’s be straight: planning a wedding is not easy, you probably already figured that out. 
Our wedding was beautiful and sweet; we invited the right guests, celebrated with our families who had flown from overseas, and danced like never before (and if you know me, you know I’m not a dancer, but I danced like there was no tomorrow on my wedding day). You know the sentence “if I had to do it all over again, I would “? Yes, that’s exactly what I think about my wedding day; despite the fact that I had to wear many hats, if not all the hats, during the planning and on the wedding day. In other words, I got into wedding planning because I was the bride I did not want any other bride to be. Seriously, here are the reasons I got into wedding planning: 

1- Wedding planning is fun! Ok, maybe not for everyone, but it definitely is for me. I love the planning process, the checklists, the connection with couples, hearing love stories, and seeing couples' wedding visions unfold slowly and come together on the wedding day, it is truly mind blowing. Growing up in Africa, weddings and celebrations were a big part of my upbringing: weddings bring families together, break boundaries. It really is a cultural connection close to my heart. Planning weddings is first an honor, to be seated in the front row and seeing couples say "I DO".

2- To educate couples and create a great wedding planning experience. I was a bride who once had to plan her own wedding, and I did not know anything about planning a wedding, let alone hiring a wedding planner. My venue was offering a wonderful venue coordinator, but no one told me that they were limited in their functions in terms of what they could do for me and my fiancé before or even on the wedding day. I was not recommended to a wedding coordinator, or someone who could help me beyond my venue coordinator’s duties. As good as they are, venues coordinators can only do what is included in their scope of practice as a venue employee, and that might include providing you with their list of preferred vendors, or communicating with the in staff caterer, but it is not their role to make sure your other vendors get paid on time, or arrive on time on the wedding day. Not hiring a professional resulted in stress that could have been avoided.

4- It takes a village to plan your dream wedding: but your family is not the village! Believe us on this! Your friends and family deserve to enjoy your wedding day as well. To go back to my wedding experience, at the end of my wedding reception, my family and I had to break down the wedding decorations , and I wished somebody had told me to trust professionals so that we could enjoy the day until the end! Looking back at it, it was painful seeing myself, my husband and our families literally hands on deck after the party. One thing we would recommend couples do is to ask their planner if they offer setup and breakdown services; if they do not, ask them if they can recommend a vendor they trust.

5- To give you back your time so that you can relax and enjoy the day. You deserve to have a smooth day and enjoy the wedding to the fullest!
We did not hire a planner on our wedding day, hence we did not have a timeline to follow and to stick to. There was no blueprint to make sure that events happen on time and that vendors would stay on schedule. Result: we were late to our reception dinner , and most of our guests had to leave early because we got married on a Sunday. All these details caused us to rush through the night, and we did not have the time to eat because we wanted to greet the guests before they left.
Lesson learned: one of our promises to our couples is that no bride and groom under our care would ever have to be hungry on their wedding day! Or to not enjoy every single minute of it. For our couples , we communicate extensively with all the vendors and create a detailed timeline that we send to them weeks before the wedding. This gives vendors the opportunity to provide their input, and get familiar with the timeline once approved by couples. In addition, our timeline includes elements that are important to each couple, such as poem readings for loved ones who passed, or a mother-son dance for a bride and her son, or games for couples and guests. Our timeline walks you through the whole experience and even brings tears to couples before the wedding.

6- To create a personalized relationship between couples and vendors. Wedding planning can be really transactional, but creating vendors - couples relationships helps personalize the whole experience. My husband and I had spent a lot of time making wedding decisions behind the screen, not connecting with vendors, just communicating via emails. We did not get to meet some vendors until our wedding day. 
As planners, we are often the middle man between couples and other vendors, and believe it or not, this helps avoid frustrations that usually come with the weight of wedding planning. Each couple deserves that person who can talk to them about place cards or hors d’oeuvres without getting tired; that person who would step in to help before they know they need to ask. Someone that would tell them that their photo timeline does not need to be too long or too complicated, or that they can have pretty chairs at the ceremony and not feel guilty. 

Everlasting Weddings By Grace was born out of a deep desire to create the best wedding experience for and share the load with couples who want to enjoy the process. We shoulder stress and handle logistical details, so that your vendors can focus on their craft, your friends and family can celebrate, and you can enjoy your celebration! Are you a bride, like me, who needs guidance and support? I'm the best person to understand what you are going through and I have a team of wedding specialists who will make sure your weddings needs are checked off! 

3- To help couples choose the right vendors: not all vendors are for you.
Some of our vendors were not the right fit for our wedding. And I say it with love, because they were wonderful people, but they were not the right professionals for us and we did not have the right tools to select the right ones. Wedding planning can come with challenges that you are not familiar with, such as budgeting, and it can be easier to avoid the question altogether or to trust the wrong people. Staying on budget can be done strategically when hiring professionals: it is important to carefully choose who to trust your wedding vision with: family members and friends are not necessarily the right fit; and even if they worked well with somebody, it does not mean that they will be a good fit for you.